Flexible Funding Leaders Cohort

Explore how to amplify your impact through maximally flexible funding.
• Learn from CEP research and peer funders about nuanced approaches to multi-year grants, operating support, flexible reporting, and trust-based practices
• Set and pursue goals in your organization’s context
• Build a deep network + leverage peer leader support

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Flexible Funding Leaders 10-Month Cohort

Connect with peer leaders and explore nuanced opportunities for implementing more flexible funding in the context of your organization’s mission and goals.

Multi-year grants. Operating support. Streamlining. Trust. You’ve heard the rhetoric. But what’s realistic and applicable in the context of your work? What actually works to achieve goals like yours? And how can you adapt these ideas to the realities of your structures and stakeholders? How can you push forward changes — big or small — at your organization?

Decades of CEP research have shown that flexible funding approaches can maximize nonprofits’ ability to use funds to fulfill their missions and plan for the sustainability of their organizations, programs, and services. Yet, CEP’s research has also shown that while attitudes of foundation leaders towards flexible funding have shifted, practices have lagged.

Through insight from guest speakers and galvanizing case studies, this cohort aims to connect foundation senior leaders with a supportive group of peers to learn about and discuss the utility and applicability of different types, lengths, and structures of grants on your strategy and overall impact. During the cohort, participants will also grapple with common barriers, gain practical tips for implementation, and set aside dedicated time to set and pursue goals related to maximizing the flexibility of funding at your organization.

Eight virtual sessions between January and October 2024 will include presentation of research on data-backed practices, funder examples, guest speakers, and structured time for discussion, reflection, and peer-supported learning and coaching. Participants will be assigned a peer partner for the duration of the cohort who will serve as a resource and support outside of scheduled sessions.

Break through barriers to implementation and maximize your organization’s impact on the communities and issues you care about.

Session Dates and Content

This cohort will meet monthly January through October 2024, with two breaks. Breaks will allow time for participants to engage in individual reflection, have one-on-one brainstorming and accountability conversations with their peer partner, and experiment with implementation at their organizations.

The utility and success of the learning cohort depends on meaningful participation from each member. So that we can foster a strong group, have fruitful conversations, and best support members in their work, we ask that each participant join with the intention of attending each of the eight planned sessions.

Sessions in Detail

  • Cohort Introductions
    • Cohort overview
    • Meeting your cohort and your peer partner
  • Why Flexible Funding?
    • CEP President Phil Buchanan discusses CEP’s research and implications with Jesús Gerena, CEO of UpTogether
    • Small groups: current practices at your organization and your goals for change
  • The How of Flexible Funding, Part 1: Considering General Operating Support in the Context of Your Strategy and Grantmaking Portfolios
    • Guest speaker Jamie Allison, Executive Director of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund discusses a compelling story of change.
    • Small group discussions:
    Decision-making criteria and equity considerations when determining which grantees and/or funding areas are a good fit for operating support
    Considering the optimal mix of grant types in your portfolios

April Spring Break: Time for Individual Reflection, Peer Partner Connection, and Implementation

  • The How of Flexible Funding, Part 2: Flexible Reporting Processes that Fit your Context
    • Philosophies and examples of reporting processes for operating grants, renewals, and other funding decisions
    • Small groups: processes tailored to GOS grants
  • Budgeting for Multiyear Grants: Common Challenges and Approaches
    • Practicalities of different grant lengths in the context of your budget, structure, and strategy
    • Planning in a volatile stock market
    • Earmarking for emergency grants
    • Progress check on your individual cohort implementation goals
    • Small groups: considering opportunities for experimentation with grant length and/or flexible renewals at your organization

July Summer Break: Time for Individual Reflection, Peer Partner Connection, and Implementation

  • Endowment Gifts as a Tool for Racial Equity
    • CEP research and guest speaker on granting to nonprofit endowments as a tool for racial equity
    • Small group discussion of implications in your context
  • Making the Case
    • Guest speaker(s) on making the case to your Board and funder examples of success
    • Dispelling commons myths and tips for change management
  • Capstone

Calendar Quick Look

  Date Pacific   Mountain Central Eastern
Session 1: Kickoff and Introductions January 18 12-1:30pm 1-2:30pm 2-3:30pm 3-4:30pm
Session 2: Why Flexible Funding? February 15 12-2pm 1-3pm 2-4pm 3-5pm
Session 3: General Operating Support March 14 12-2pm 1-3pm 2-4pm 3-5pm
Session 4: Reporting Processes May 9 12-2pm 1-3pm 2-4pm 3-5pm
Session 5: Budgeting for Multiyear Grants June 20 12-2pm 1-3pm 2-4pm 3-5pm
Session 6: Endowment Gifts August 8 12-2pm 1-3pm 2-4pm 3-5pm
Session 7: Making the Case September 12 12-2pm 1-3pm 2-4pm 3-5pm
Session 8: Capstone October 10 12-2pm 1-3pm 2-4pm 3-5pm

About CEP’s Learning Institute and Peer Learning Cohorts

CEP’s Learning Institute offers cohorts, workshops, and custom trainings for foundation staff and leaders to support your learning and implementation of data-backed promising practices.

CEP’s Peer Learning Cohorts provide action-oriented opportunities for staff and leaders in philanthropy to build community, learn together, and support each other in setting and pursuing goals of effective philanthropic practices, ultimately strengthening their personal and organizational impact.

To learn more about CEP’s past and current offerings, please visit CEP’s Learning Institute webpage.

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